mentorship program - LightBox Developing Leaders

Choosing to become a mentor is a serious undertaking. A mentorship can have a lasting, formative impact on your mentee’s career path and future success. Mentors are invaluable, teaching mentees how to achieve their goals, network, search for the right opportunities, what organizations to get involved with, and how to provide value to their industry. 

On the flip side, being a mentor isn’t all about giving. In addition to having a big, life-changing impact on someone’s life, you also contribute to the health of your industry and ensure your talent pipeline remains strong. 

This has most certainly been the experience of LightBox’s Developing Leaders Program mentor, Michael Bell. Michael shares with us what it was like to be a mentor in the program, and how the mentor/mentee relationship was beneficial all around.

What is the LightBox Developing Leaders Program?

The LightBox Developing Leaders Program is on a mission to create leaders in due diligence and risk management in commercial real estate (CRE) lending and environmental consulting. The Developing Leaders Program was created as a way to educate and provide connections that would spread the insights of business leaders and to give newer professionals tools and resources to meet development goals. 

The program was successful after its first year for both mentors and mentees. We’ve asked Developing Leaders Program mentor Michael Bell what it was like to be a mentor during the program’s first year. Michael shares what his relationship was like with his mentee and what both learned from the experience. 

Meet one of our program mentors

The Developing Leaders Program sources some of the very best in the business, and this is certainly true of Michael. Michael is the founder and President of Bell Oldow, where he oversees all environmental technology. Bell Oldow is an environmental due diligence company established in 2010, specializing in monetizing and managing known and potential environmental liabilities to support the execution of investment strategy. 

With 32+ years in the industry, Michael is a recognized leader in real estate due diligence. He served as President of the Environmental Bankers Association and is a regular speaker at national environmental conferences. Michael headed the Environmental Department of Capital Crossing Bank when it was one of a few CRE mortgage investors modeling loan foreclosure and ownership of real estate collateral. He’s also a corporate environmental scientist with over 20 years of deep experience in environmental risk management, due diligence, regulatory compliance, and remedial actions. His credentials include being a Certified Professional Geologist and a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager. All of this to say, he’s got plenty of knowledge and experience to share with his mentor!

Not having had a mentor himself as he was rising up in his career, Michael laments that it would have been helpful when he was starting out. “I started at the time when every day brought a new experience that I had to figure out for myself. I did not have training programs, manuals, or a hand to hold. Although this offered powerful education, in retrospect it would have been nice to have someone with graying hair to offer some words of wisdom so I didn’t have to smash my fingers so many times,” Michael shares.

How to build successful mentor/mentee relationships

Michael was not initially planning to be in the first round of mentors, but a Program coordinator reached out after a mentor ended up having to back out. Michael enthusiastically accepted.

The relationship started with Michael needing to understand where his mentee, Patrick, was in his career and what his goals were. As their relationship developed, it was important for Patrick to be candid with what he liked and didn’t like about his job, and where his challenges were. Understanding where Patrick was formed the base where Michael’s guidance could begin. 

“With that understanding, it was possible to discuss pinch points, relay personal experiences to support growth, offer book recommendations that discuss specific, offer insights into their situation,” Michael said. For him, being a good mentor also means being consistent and engaged with his mentee, which he found helped to create a personal connection that builds understanding and trust. 

Michael’s mentee Patrick said he gained confidence in a new job he took on during his time in the Developing Leaders Program. Patrick shared with Michael that his confidence stemmed from being at the job longer and also discussing the changes it brought. Michael had experienced similar transitions in his career and was therefore a great resource for Patrick to voice questions, concerns, or just general comments. “Patrick knew I had his back and was with him during this transition,” Michael shares.

The benefits of mentorship

A great mentor/mentee relationship tends to benefit both sides, and this was absolutely the experience Michael had as a mentor. He found he gained a friend in Patrick and felt positive and happy about the ways he was able to help him. Additionally, being a mentor means that Michael gives back to his industry in a profound way, by helping to develop a talented due diligence and risk management professional.

In talking with other mentors and mentees in the Developing Leaders Program, Michael said everyone found the Program to be valuable and enjoyable. Many mentors indicated they would like to be mentors again, and many mentees said they would like to be mentors someday. This is yet another way mentorship gives back to the industry. By creating such positive experiences, mentors inspire a new generation who also want to give back and help others in the industry.

When asked what he’d say to others in his field who would like to become mentors, Michael says, “Join in. It is rewarding and allows more experienced workers to share their accumulated knowledge with others who can thrive with such insights.”

Michael sums up by saying he is very pleased to be part of the Developing Leaders Program. He is currently a mentor to a new mentee, who he is meeting weekly as they are in the process of getting to know one another. He is confident that, just like his first mentee, they too will become friends who share careers together. 

Want to learn more about the Developing Leaders Program?

After hearing from a Developing Leaders Program mentor, you may be wondering what it’s like to go through the program as a mentee. Click here to check out our interview with mentee Chelsea Halley.

We are looking forward to following along with the next class of Developing Leaders in 2020. While applications for this year are now closed, interested parties can email for more information about applications for next year. And for more information about the Developing Leaders Program, click here.

Category Developing Leaders